The Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres has expressed sadness over the death of Brigadier General Constance Edjeani-Afenu who passed away on Monday (24 January 2022) at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra following a short illness.
In a heartfelt statement released on Tuesday, the UN described Brigadier General Edjeani-Afenu as “a true pioneer and made history in peacekeeping as the first female deputy force commander in the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)”.
“The Secretary-General offers his heartfelt condolences to her family, to the people and the Government of the Republic of Ghana.
“Brigadier Edjeani-Afenu will be remembered for her distinguished service in these missions, as well as her tireless work to promote inclusiveness and increase the number of women in the peacekeeping operations where she served,” the statement read.
Rise through the ranks
Edjeani-Afenu was commissioned into the armed forces on 25 April 1980 as a second lieutenant after 18 months of regular training at the Ghana Military Academy.
On completion of her initial training, she undertook regimental training by serving as platoon commander to the 2nd Battalion of Infantry in 1980 , after which she was posted as platoon commander and adjutant to the 3rd Border Guards Battalion from 1981 to 1982.
She was subsequently appointed a general staff officer grade 3 in charge of training and personnel at the Border Guards Headquarters (1983-84) and then moved to become adjutant of the Border Guards Training School in Kpetoe in 1984.
In 1995 she was appointed second-in-command of the Ghana Armed Forces Pay Regiment and in 1999 rose to become commanding officer. She was the first woman to occupy any of these postings in the Ghana Armed Forces.
New York to Nimba
In 2013 Edjeani-Afenu became the first woman to be named as deputy military advisor (DMILAD) to Ghana’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, based in New York City, a post she retained until 2016.
In 2016, while still serving as DMILAD, she was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, becoming the first woman ever to be made a general of the Ghana Armed Forces.
She also served as the Armed Forces representative to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.
Brigadier General Edjeani-Afenu further participated in UN peacekeeping operations under the banner of GHANBATT (the Ghana Battalion) in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL; 1994 and 1998), the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Congo (MONUSCO; 2007) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL; 2009).